End-of-Year Contract Contest

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For all of you who’ve been hoping for a book contract under your Christmas tree, here’s a fun little contest.

Orham Pamuk’s Nobel lecture

Why Evangelicals Can’t Write

First one to properly connect the dots between these two ideas, and show how your work-in-progress responds to the question, will win a free manuscript evaluation and a hearing at my next editorial team meeting.

Leave a comment or email me directly.

I’m hopeful many of you will easily meet this friendly challenge. God’s best and happy reading.

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9 thoughts on “End-of-Year Contract Contest”

  1. Interestingly enough, I planned on posting Monday about Evangelicalism’s onslaught against ritual and why it’s sucked the movement dry. So yeah, I agree with the Leithart piece.
    Sorry, don’t have time to connect any dots right now. After Christmas, my mind will return.
    Thanks for including Cerulean Sanctum in your sidebar, BTW!

  2. Wonderful articles, Mick. Thanks for posting them. I read the Leithart piece when Credenda first published it, but enjoyed reading it again.
    I see Bertrand already responded, and having read his manuscript, I have no doubt he connected constellations of dots. I may e-mail you some thoughts anyway just for the fun of discussion.

  3. Oh, I’m sorry, I went and got my copy of MY NAME IS RED and, consequently, have totally ignored the dots and any connections.
    My Name Is Mir

  4. What a koinkidink. My favorite novel is about liturgy and symbolism versus literal application. My husband and I even discussed same this morning. We always differ. I’ve named the book so many times on ACFW’s loop when they ask for a favorite. It’s _Lost Shepherd_ by the late Agnes Sanford, missionary to China, and with her husband, a leader in a school of pastoral care. Out of print but available online, it was already old and a bit dated when I discovered it. Nevertheless it’s such a good read, starting off slowly, but, watch out. It will really touch you. It ends at Christmas, so this is a good time to read it. Again, in my case.

  5. wow mick, of course when i read these words:
    writers who see by the light of their Christian faith will have, in these times, the sharpest eyes for the grotesque, for the perverse, and for the unacceptable.
    they are very affirming. but it strikes me how utterly different another soul could take these words.
    wow:
    A Catholic writer who wants to get to mystery cannot bypass the evil and pain and suffering of the world, because that is to bypass the cross. Rather, “If the Catholic writer hopes to reveal mysteries, he will have to do it by describing truthfully what he sees from where he is.”
    very encouraging.
    suz.

  6. Well, it looks like I came into the discussion a bit late, but I loved both of these discussions, especially the Orhan Pamuk lecture. Rather than connecting the dots (la-la-la), I’ll just share my favorite thoughts from Pamuk.
    “People, papers, everyone acted as if the most important measure of a life was happiness.” A convicting line, I thought. Is it possible that we, as the church, are limiting God’s hope because of our focus on happiness? There seems to be that theme of dualism running through both. Pamuk writes to tell of Istanbul’s life. He talks about the streets and in it, finds the transcendent. O’Connor warns against skipping over the things of this world, both the good and the bad, in our search for mysteries.

  7. A ray of hope.
    I have used excerpts and a comment to enter into the challenge.
    Eternally optimistic.
    Audrey
    A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is: when I speak of writing, what comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or literary tradition, it is a person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and alone, turns inward; amid its shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man – or this woman – may use a typewriter, profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I have done for 30 years. As he writes, he can drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time he may rise from his table to look out through the window at the children playing in the street, and, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or he can gaze out at a black wall. He can write poems, plays, or novels, as I do. All these differences come after the crucial task of sitting down at the table and patiently turning inwards. To write is to turn this inward gaze into words, to study the world into which that person passes when he retires into himself, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy. As I sit at my table, for days, months, years, slowly adding new words to the empty page, I feel as if I am creating a new world, as if I am bringing into being that other person inside me, in the same way someone might build a bridge or a dome, stone by stone. The stones we writers use are words. As we hold them in our hands, sensing the ways in which each of them is connected to the others, looking at them sometimes from afar, sometimes almost caressing them with our fingers and the tips of our pens, weighing them, moving them around, year in and year out, patiently and hopefully, we create new worlds.
    The writer’s secret is not inspiration – for it is never clear where it comes from – it is his stubbornness, his patience. That lovely Turkish saying – to dig a well with a needle – seems to me to have been said with writers in mind. In the old stories, I love the patience of Ferhat, who digs through mountains for his love – and I understand it, too. In my novel, My Name is Red, when I wrote about the old Persian miniaturists who had drawn the same horse with the same passion for so many years, memorising each stroke, that they could recreate that beautiful horse even with their eyes closed, I knew I was talking about the writing profession, and my own life. If a writer is to tell his own story – tell it slowly, and as if it were a story about other people – if he is to feel the power of the story rise up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and patiently give himself over to this art – this craft – he must first have been given some hope. The angel of inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on others) favours the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer feels mostly lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his dreams, and the value of his writing – when he thinks his story is only his story – it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal to him stories, images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to build. If I think back on the books to which I have devoted my entire life, I am most surprised by those moments when I have felt as if the sentences, dreams, and pages that have made me so ecstatically happy have not come from my own imagination – that another power has found them and generously presented them to me.
    For me, to be a writer is to acknowledge the secret wounds that we carry inside us, the wounds so secret that we ourselves are barely aware of them, and to patiently explore them, know them, illuminate them, to own these pains and wounds, and to make them a conscious part of our spirits and our writing.
    A point arrived when this world I had made with my own hands, this world that existed only in my head, was more real to me than the city in which I actually lived. That was when all these people and streets, objects and buildings would seem to begin to talk amongst themselves, and begin to interact in ways I had not anticipated, as if they lived not just in my imagination or my books, but for themselves. This world that I had created like a man digging a well with a needle would then seem truer than all else.
    I write not to tell a story, but to compose a story.
    “When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost blind you draw large and startling figures.”
    If the writer must be open to the manifestation of God in “what-is,” she must begin with the senses. Following Aquinas, O’Connor writes, “The beginning of human knowledge is through the senses, and the fiction writer begins where human perception begins. He appeals through the senses, and you cannot appeal to the senses with abstractions.” Yet, “Most people who think they want to write stories are not willing to start there. They want to write about problems, not people; or about abstract issues, not concrete situations.”
    The good of art does not lie in the object’s conformity to some pre-existing idea or standard, but to the “idea” that emerges, always already incarnate, within the very process of making. Art’s good is internal to artistic creation. If the artist aims to evoke delight, it must be a delight evoked by the character of the product. Art produces objects, things, and there is deep wisdom in Robert Farrar Capon’s comment that it is good and wholesome to delight in things because God delights in things—otherwise, He wouldn’t have made so many of them.
    Fiction does not aim at edification. It aims to produce a work that obeys the demands imposed by the work, by the medium of the art itself. Yet, it does aim at truth, at a fictional representation of what-is.
    In my novel, An Angel of Mercy I explore the strengths and weaknesses that I have found in myself and in the world that comprises of my own personal reality. I dig deep into my own thoughts and motives and I bare my secrets and my fears. I write with a hope for mankind, but with a reality of their faults and frailties. And grace. I explore grace. I have been amazed as I watch the world that I create take on a life of its own. And that life is made vital by a living and breathing and interacting Spirit that dwells within some of the characters in my novels and begs to dwell within the heart of the outside characters and also within the heart of the audience that is experiencing my reality. Is it Evangelical? I wouldn’t apologize.

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